Charter Schools are Learning a Lesson About Union Organizing

There is a common misconception that unionization rates are decreasing. To balance any decrease in industries like manufacturing, unions are exploring how to infiltrate new industries. One such industry is education. While the unionization of adjunct faculty at universities across the nation receives most of the attention, unions are quietly organizing charter schools as well.

Historically, charter schools have been opposed to unions. Many charter schools believe the key to success is keeping schools away from the powerful teachers unions. Recently, teachers at a large charter network in Los Angeles announced their intent to join the United Teachers of Los Angeles. The possibility of a proliferation in charter schools unionizing presents many challenges. Unions, which have traditionally opposed the expansion of charter schools because it hurts their union membership, are now faced with balancing their support of organizing charter school educators with their opposition to charter schools overall.

A measly 7% of charter school teachers are union members compared to 70% of public school teachers across the country. With about 7,000 charter schools in 42 states, there is significant room to increase union membership if the unionization of charter schools is successful. For those believing the success of charter schools in based in part on no union interference, schools must implement union avoidance training immediately.

Matt Austin is a lawyer based in the Columbus, Ohio office of Roetzel & Andress, LPA who limits his practice to representing employers dealing with labor, employment, and OSHA matters. You can call Matt at (614) 723-2010 or email him at